Watson’s donations from gambling interests – and his voting record

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has a reputation as an anti-gambling campaigner – but has received donations from gambling interests and his voting record is not what might be expected

Tom Watson has a reputation for campaigning against gambling, thanks to opposition to ‘fixed-odds betting terminals’ (FOBTs) and to gambling advertising. But he has also received donations or benefits in kind from individuals and companies with significant gambling interests.


In 2018, Watson – now the Shadow Minister responsible for the regulation of betting firms – declared in his register of interests hospital from Sky Betting and Gaming, the owner of multiple gambling brands:

Watson has also accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations from casino games developer Derek Webb:

Webb joined forces with former Corbyn aide Matt Zarb-Cousin to campaign against FOBTs in betting shops – but as the Financial Times observed in 2017, he also campaigned for deregulation of casinos and for tax-cuts to casino operators:

Voting record

Watson’s voting record on gambling has diverged from that of most Labour MPs, as the TheyWorkForYou site records:

Watson’s campaign against FOBTs has also attracted criticism:

The SKWAWKBOX asked Tom Watson about the apparent conflict of interest:

At the time of publication and in spite of a follow-up call to his office this afternoon, he had not responded.

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  1. Very interesting. But are we surprised at such hypocrisy?

    … perhaps the wider issue is how corrupt is the whole Westminster scene, with ‘gifts’ and ‘donations’ flying around like confetti.

    Despite flaws and exceptions (and accusations), control of such conflicts of interest is much tighter in local government since the Nolan report than it is in Parliament. Despite putative mechanisms, Westminster perpetuates the fiction of ‘honor’ and makes excuses. When you look at the Register of Interests, the perfectly permissible use of what is obviously graft hits you in the face.

    But that’s the British constitutional arrangements – the belly and arse govern the brain.

  2. In the 2nd line of the Donations paragraph, shouldn’t it be “hospitality”?

    For a moment I thought you were saying Sky paid for his new, slimmer physique!

  3. I notice one of his freebies is to see The Cure at BST. Has anyone got a photo of Watson in full goth costume?

  4. The vice of gambling, as its advertising dominates our TV Chanels (with no effect?….I doubt it, just harmless fun?) is another statement about our culture & society. The concept of gambling syndicates sponsorship of sport is an appalling idea that must be seriously questioned. How can the veracity of any sports event, especially football, not be questioned when gambling money calls the tune?

    1. I reckon advertising by gambling concerns should be treated in the same way as smoking. Both are addictive and dangerous – and antisocial.

      I wonder what Tom’s view is? 🙂

      (Another hobby horse – has anyone who thinks commercial television is ‘free’ considered the massive opportunity costs of advertising time on television?)

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